Chinese Basketball Icon Retires from NBA

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 3:10 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming has retired from America's top league, bring an end to his groundbreaking but injury-plagued professional career.

The 2.29 meter Yao, who turns 31 years old in September, announced his retirement in his hometown of Shanghai Wednesday.

Yao spent his entire eight-year career with the Houston Rockets, who made him their top draft pick in 2002. He averaged 19 points and nine rebounds, leading the Rockets to four post-season playoff appearances and making the All-Star team eight times.

His success made him an international superstar and expanded the National Basketball Association's fan base into China and other parts of Asia.

A series of injuries to both feet and legs forced him to miss hundreds of games during his career, including the entire 2009-10 season. He played just five games last season after suffering a stress fracture in his left leg.

He told reporters the last six months have been “an agonizing wait” as he pondered his basketball future.

Yao carried the Chinese flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics. At the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he carried the Olympic torch through Tiananmen Square and the Chinese flag during the opening ceremonies.